13 Signs Your Relationship Is In Trouble


crying woman
A list of danger markers to help you assess whether your relationship is in trouble.

We humans long for stability in a world where everything is in flux. Despite our wishes, the only certainty in life is constant change. Nothing will be the exactly the same tomorrow as it is today. 

Rivers erode one bank while causing accretion on another. Just when we think we've settled into a safe existence, we lose a job, someone gets sick, a child is born, a parent dies. Some change is rapid and perceptible like technological innovation or a summer storm. Other changes take eons like the creation of mountains or smoothing of jagged rock.


Your relationship is also always changing in perceptible and imperceptible ways. Even the most rock solid union is in a state of flux. Like nature, relationships have seasons and rhythms. During each "season" you build a stronger union or drift apart. Your thoughts, words, attitudes and behaviors dictate the direction in which change moves. Are you headed toward more intimacy and closeness or away toward isolation and alienation?

We have listed 13 specific danger markers to help you assess whether your relationship is headed in the wrong direction.

  1. Secrets are a cancer to relationships. They gnaw at trust and closeness and create barriers between people.
  2. Infidelity can undermine the best of relationships. Even relationships that survive the exposure are often irreparably scarred the experience. Emotional infidelity can be as damaging as physical infidelity.
  3. Lack of balance in decision making power is usually a sign of a lack of cooperation and mutuality.
  4. An overall feeling that you are superior to your partner is a prescription for dissatisfaction for both parties.
  5. Reluctance to bring your partner to business or social gatherings can be a sign of shame which is unwelcome in a  healthy relationship.
  6. Resentment in sharing in your partner's success or accomplishments reflects competitiveness and a lack of recognition that partners are on the same team.
  7. A condescending approach to your partner is a poison pill for any couple's happiness.
  8. Feeling trapped, stifled, or imprisoned in a relationship breaks down the potential for intimacy.
  9. Prolonged and volcanic jealousy is a source of turmoil that isolates partners.
  10. Destructive or malicious conflict that is hurtful and encourages partners to withdraw and retreat from each other is a barrier to intimacy.
  11. Feeling critical or disappointed in significant ways about your partner discourages mutual respect and realistic love.
  12. Not having basic needs and wants met creates a vacuum which chokes relationship.
  13. Compromised dependability and the inability to trust your partner makes lasting, fulfilling relationships extremely difficult.

When these dangers are present in your relationship, it signals a relationship headed in the wrong direction. The best cure is to identify and take responsibility for your part, bring the problem out in the open, and together try to make positive changes. If your relationship is plagued by more than one of these dangers, working together with an objective professional can help you get back on track.

Want to read our book?  Sign up for our newsletter? Learn how to work with us or get in touch.

This article was originally published at Free and Connected. Reprinted with permission.

More juicy content on YourTango:

Photo: WeHeartIt

Article contributed by

Mary Ellen & Jerry

Marriage/Couples Counselor

free & connected

You may wonder if you are beyond help.

Our couples retreat will change your life.

It really is that simple.

Location: Rye, NH
Credentials: PhD
Other Articles/News by Mary Ellen & Jerry:

Make Love, Not War! 4 Ways To Stop Fighting About Politics


Is there anything more awkward and uncomfortable than listening to couples argue about politics? That was the scene we endured at a recent dinner party. Frank, a lifelong bleeding heart liberal, and Julie, his wife of 15 years (and fan of Rand Paul), exploded into a wine-fueled brawl over Obamacare. The fight quickly escalated in nastiness, complete with ... Read more

The Honeymoon Doesn't Last Forever, And That's A Good Thing!


Marriage is tough — especially when there are children involved. Couples who manage to stay together have the wisdom to understand that happiness is fluid and that all relationships have growing pains. Jeff and Susan began their weekend couples retreat with a declaration — they were no longer happy. Their married life was dull and stale. They ... Read more

Help! I Keep Dating Guys Who Want A Mom, Not a Girlfriend


Peggy came into her session looking distraught. "There must be a screw loose in my head or I'm just not that bright when it comes to men. You'd think I would learn. No matter how hard I try to select carefully, I end up with guys who want someone to take charge of their lives. You know, a mother. I don't want to be a mother, at least with my ... Read more

See More

My Videos
Must-see Videos
Most Popular